Land Deal Enhances Newport Country Club's Future : Agreement: Irvine Co. sells 132 acres to group that will lease the site back to its current operator.


The Newport Beach Country Club is about to get a new lease on life--literally.

The Irvine Co. has sold the 132 acres containing the club and its golf course to the O Hill Properties development company in Newport Beach and two unidentified partners. The plan is to lease the country club back to its current operator under a 75-year pact, participants in the deal said Monday.

"I think it's the best thing for the longevity of the club that could have happened," said Thomas G. Deemer, president of International Bay Clubs Inc., which operates the golf course.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed. Robert O Hill, president of O Hill Properties, said that only 16 years remained on the country club's former lease on the property. The management had wanted to build a new clubhouse and make improvements to the property but had hesitated because of uncertainty about whether the lease would be renewed.

Now, O Hill said, the long-term lease gives International Bay, which will continue to manage the property, more freedom to make improvements. International Bay, based in Newport Beach, operates both the golf course and the swank Balboa Bay Club.

The golf course is off Pacific Coast Highway and next to Newport Center. It was founded 40 years ago and was known for years as the Irvine Coast Country Club. It was renamed in 1985 when International Bay began operating it. Lifetime memberships cost about $23,500, making it one of the county's lower-priced prestige clubs.

Dawn McCormick, spokeswoman for the Irvine Co., said the land deal was part of a program by her company to sell certain properties. "We're just glad that all three of the parties were able to come together," she said.

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